Fuel for Thought

Fuel for Thought

How are you fueling your ambitions?

Harry Noel-Smith shared with us his cycling and nutrition journey that led to the creation of Kinetic Kitchen. Start reading below to see what he learnt or scroll down to the end of the article for a discount code.

 

We’ve all got goals we want to achieve and legacies that we want to leave, but how much care and attention do we give to what’s fuelling these journeys?

 

July 3rd, 2014 and I’d just completed a 488 km ride on the final day of a 12 day challenge to cycle 2400 miles from London to Africa and back in aid of the charity, StreetInvest. My hands and feet were numb and I had a bottom like a baboon but I was ranked in the top three cyclists in the world on Strava for distance covered, and I could finally classify myself as an ultra-endurance cyclist. Not bad for someone that didn’t own a bike and hadn’t cycled more than 30 miles in a day just 9 months prior. 

Transferring from novice to elite cyclist in 8 months was far from an easy feat – especially in the early days when we were not focusing on what we were fueling ourselves with. Have you ever experience inconsistency with your cycling performance? This was us in the first 4 weeks.

It was obvious that something wasn’t right, so I decided to get my sports scientist thinking cap on. It was an article on the negative effects that regular ingestion of high GI foods (something us cyclists have been taught we need to do to maintain energy levels on longer rides!) had on blood glucose, insulin levels and endurance performance, that then led me to a plethora of research on the benefits of using fat for fuel and the positive impact a high-fat low-carb diet can have on athletic performance.

Fuel for Thought 2

It was a real eye-opener. I was aware of the important role dietary fat played in joint structure, cell membrane function, hormonal production and as a vitamin carrier etc., but the concept of becoming ‘fat-adapted’ through adoption of a high-fat low-carb, or ‘ketogenic’, diet for enhanced physical and mental performance was very much new to me. I decided to give it and go and I never looked back. It was the nutritional intervention that completely changed the course of my training and, oddly enough, my life too, with the experience inspiring me to set up my own performance centered food and drinks company, Kinetic Kitchen, a couple of years down the line (more on that shortly).

For any readers uninitiated to the ketogenic diet, in basic terms, it is a diet that is made up of around 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrate and its primary objective is to get you into a physiological state of ‘ketosis’ whereby you are no longer relying on carbohydrates as your primary source of energy but ‘ketone bodies’ instead (which are produced through the breakdown of fats). The ultimate goal of the diet is to become fat- or keto-adapted, which typically happens after a few weeks of being on the diet. This is when your body has fully transitioned to almost exclusively using fat for fuel (i.e., a combination of fat burned directly and as ketones derived from fat) and this is when the real magic starts to happen. 

What do I mean by magic? Well, the list is truly quite extensive when you really get into it, but here are 4 of the most potent, evidence-based performance-related benefits of keto-adaptation, followed by an introduction to one of Kinetic Kitchen’s most popular, keto-inspired products, the KETOnut.

It was a real eye-opener. I was aware of the important role dietary fat played in joint structure, cell membrane function, hormonal production and as a vitamin carrier etc., but the concept of becoming ‘fat-adapted’ through adoption of a high-fat low-carb, or ‘ketogenic’, diet for enhanced physical and mental performance was very much new to me. I decided to give it and go and I never looked back. It was the nutritional intervention that completely changed the course of my training and, oddly enough, my life too, with the experience inspiring me to set up my own performance centered food and drinks company, Kinetic Kitchen, a couple of years down the line (but more on that shortly).

For any readers uninitiated to the ketogenic diet, in basic terms, it is a diet that is made up of around 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrate and its primary objective is to get you into a physiological state of ‘ketosis’ whereby you are no longer relying on carbohydrates as your primary source of energy but ‘ketone bodies’ instead (which are produced through the breakdown of fats). The ultimate goal of the diet is to become fat- or keto-adapted, which typically happens after a few weeks of being on the diet. This is when your body has fully transitioned to almost exclusively using fat for fuel (i.e., a combination of fat burned directly and as ketones derived from fat) and this is when the real magic starts to happen. 

What do I mean by magic? Well, the list is truly quite extensive when you really get into it, but here are 4 of the most potent, evidence-based performance-related benefits of keto-adaptation, followed by an introduction to one of Kinetic Kitchen’s most popular, keto-inspired products, the KETOnut:

1. Improved body composition. 

Keto-adaptation ramps up lipolysis in the body (the burning of fat) and supports an anti-catabolic environment that allows lean tissue to be preserved. Improved body composition means an increase in power-to-weight ratio – something us cyclists are always striving to improve!

2. Improved prolonged endurance performance.

The body’s fat stores are far superior in terms of size to that of stored carbohydrate (glycogen), but are not easily accessible when a moderate or high carb diet is being followed. Keto-adaptation gives you unadulterated access to these fuel stores, allowing you to keep going when you might not previously have been able to.

3. Improved recovery.

Keto-adaptation optimises mitochondrial function by offering a cleaner source of energy and reducing ROS (reactive oxidative species). Less metabolic stress equals improved fuel flow and healthier cell membranes, which translates into faster recovery from exercise and less-exercise induced inflammation, immunosuppression, gastro-intestinal distress, insulin resistance, muscle damage and soreness.

4. Improved brain function.

The brain is certainly a glutton for glucose but we now know it also loves ketones. Keto-adaptation ensures the brain has a steady supply of fuel in the form of ketones so that when muscle and liver glycogen levels become depleted during exercise, it doesn’t have to fight with our muscles for the relatively small amount of glucose that can be produced through the breakdown of protein (gluconeogenesis). Keeping the brain sufficiently fuelled during exercise ensures cognitive ability is sustained and that athletes avoid ‘bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’ – an event primarily associated with inadequate fuel for the brain.

Pretty impressive stuff, huh? Almost as impressive as the culinary experience of biting into one of our KETOnuts! “What’s a KETOnut?” I hear curious readers cry. I’m so glad you asked. A direct evolution of one of the snacks I created to keep me fuelled on my bike all that time ago, the KETOnut is a health- and performance-enhancing doughnut. Made with 100% organic ingredients and no added sugar we reinvented the doughnut wheel by stripping away all of the unhealthy nastiness lurking inside a traditional doughnut and replacing it with super tasty performance-enhancing ingredients. Made for endurance athletes, low-carb/keto enthusiasts, sugar-freers, the health conscious community and everyone in between, we have a delicious range of flavours on offer and nationwide letterbox delivery available.

Fuel for Thought

AND we are pleased to offer all members of the RGT community a special 10% discount using code “RGT10” valid until the end of June! VIsit our website and tell us you’re from the RGT crew!

Article Sources

Websites:

www.ketonutrition.org

www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com

Books:

The Ketogenic Bible: by Jacob Wilson & Ryan Lowery

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance: by Jeff S. Volek and Stephen D. Phinney

 

Author’s notes: Whilst many people that switch to a keto or high-fat low-carb diet have positive experiences, there are also some that do not. Please do your own research to determine whether it is a sensible option for you or discuss it with a qualified health professional. None of the above information is intended nor should it be construed as providing medical advice.

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